The real threat from rich holiday treats is not always from the treats, themselves. We cannot always avoid situations where the treats are offered, so some new strategies are called for when cutting calories, sugars and fats during the holidays.
The stores lay out special treats at steep discounts. This is done in ways that are developed by the best shopping psychology experts who decide what goes into the end-of-aisle displays.
Family and personal history with holiday sugars and fats is an important part of our cravings for traditional foods. These foods are especially delicious because they are high in sugars and fats, but were usually prepared only for special occasions. So, when the holiday bells start to jingle, the cravings will come.
The first step is to manage the psychology. We need to understand our individual triggers for consuming sugar and fat during the holidays. Once we know our personal triggers, we can decide when to pull them.Then, perhaps we can stop the process from being so automatic.
We can control the physiology of hunger with better food. If there is already a full load of nutrients in the body, there might be much less appetite for those rich food offerings. This means that a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner every day will keep the bloodstream full of nutrients that will curb both the hunger and the excessive cravings. A well nourished body is likely to be happy with just a little bit of rich food or a single treat.
Another step is to control the portions and to set a limit. This step has three parts: dealing with the pushy server; finding ways to cut the serving size, and setting a reasonable daily budget for fat and sugar, which leads to the calories.
It takes a strong will to deal with the food pusher. There are always faked hurt feelings and other psychological games that a food pusher will play, but in time you will win. Learn to say “no thank you” and mean it. If all else fails, make it clear that you cannot stand to waste food, but you will if you have to.
If the cheesecake is cut into 8 slices, then find the person who has the knife. If a huge slice is served, cut it in half and share with someone else. If those tricks are not possible, simply take the desired portion and get the rest of it out of sight.
Portion control also works when a daily treats budget is set. When the budget has been exhausted, stop taking any more rich food.
When cooking, seven great calorie and sugar cheaters are:
Mix real sugar with artificial sweetener. Start with a 50% mix. Splenda is good for all kinds of cooking and even comes in brown sugar.
Mix real butter with one of the Omega-3 butter substitutes. But for baking, make sure that the Omega-3 butter substitute is not mostly oil.
Use a fat separator when recovering pan juices after roasting meats. They look like pitchers, but the spout is set at the bottom of the pitcher. The pure juices go to the bottom while the fat stays at the top of the pitcher. When the juice is carefully poured, all of the fat stays in the pitcher!
Substitute leaner meats. There is 97% lean ground pork and beef. Chicken is a great taco and lasagna meat substitute.
Use evaporated milk to give flavor that cream does not seem to give these days. Just a tablespoon per cup of lowfat milk will add unbelievable richness to sauces and other recipes that call for cream.
Mix sugary juices and ciders with diet lemon lime or diet fruit flavored sodas. This adds a festive fizz while cutting down on the sugar.
Stop buying low quality and less than ripe fruit. When the fruit is fully ripe and sweet, much less sugar is needed. Frozen and canned fruit can be great when the store only has fresh fruit that was shipped while still green. Plan to do some canning or freezing next Summer and Fall when the fruit is at it’s peak. Then there will be beautiful, tree ripened fruit for those special holiday dishes.
In summary, keep the body full of the vitamins and minerals that it needs, try some new cooking tricks, and keep a strong resolve to just say “no” to fats, sugars and calories when the daily treats budget has been exhausted.